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It’s no surprise that, for centuries, people thought love (and most other emotions, for that matter) arose from the heart.
As it turns out, love is all about the brain – which, in turn, makes the rest of your body go haywire. Helen Fisher at Rutgers, romantic love can be broken down into three categories: lust, attraction, and attachment.
While these chemicals are often stereotyped as being “male” and “female,” respectively, both play a role in men and women.
As it turns out, testosterone increases libido in just about everyone.
What we do know, however, is that much of love be explained by chemistry.
So, if there’s really a “formula” for love, what is it, and what does it mean?
Finally, attraction seems to lead to a reduction in serotonin, a hormone that’s known to be involved in appetite and mood.
Interestingly, people who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder also have low levels of serotonin, leading scientists to speculate that this is what underlies the overpowering infatuation that characterizes the beginning stages of love.
The hypothalamus of the brain plays a big role in this, stimulating the production of the sex hormones testosterone and estrogen from the testes and ovaries (Figure 1).The two primary hormones here appear to be oxytocin and vasopressin (Figure 1).Oxytocin is often nicknamed “cuddle hormone” for this reason.Lust and attraction shut off the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which includes rational behavior.Meanwhile, attraction seems to be a distinct, though closely related, phenomenon.